In Depth

Web Presence Adds Competitive Boost

Speed Is King in Cutthroat News Race

As entertainment newsmagazine shows jockey harder for juicy celebrity scoops, the importance of each competitor’s 24/7 Web presence continues to ramp up.

It’s become practically impossible to embargo news for an over-the-air broadcast, which means entertainment newsmagazines are having to contend with the Perez Hiltons of the world for news that’s fast and reliable.

Road to NATPE

  • Network-Proven: Names Pull in Syndie Dollars . . . More »
  • The Panelists . . . More »
  • Putting a Fresh Spin on Veterans . . . More »
  • Rolling Dice on Syndie Games . . . More »
  • Producer Fine-Tunes Talk Shows . . . More »
  • ‘TMZ’ Turns a TV Genre on Its Head . . . More »
  • Web Presence Adds Competitive Boost . . . More »
  • Road to NATPE . . . More »
For a majority of the entertainment newsmagazines, including the ratings leader, CBS Television Distribution’s “Entertainment Tonight,” being first is the main priority.

Linda Bell Blue, executive producer of “ET” and “The Insider,” said “ET’s” newsroom is constantly churning stories for online, on both coasts.

“When people wake up on the East Coast,” she said, “you have to wait a couple hours to see stories from our competition.”

But she doesn’t dismiss the broadcast element. She said “The Insider’s” WardrobeCam with Lara Spencer is drawing a nice synergy between online and broadcast elements.

Online viewers can vote on what Ms. Spencer will wear on the air later that day, and learn how to mimic the style on a tight budget.

Ms. Bell Blue said ad tie-ins are in the works with the WardrobeCam.

According to Web information company Alexa, etonline.com currently has a traffic ranking of 9,753, while theinsider.com has a ranking of 5,729.

Timeliness is a major component of Internet news, but Rob Silverstein, executive producer at NBC Universal Television Distribution’s “Access Hollywood,” said his show’s major operating procedure is accuracy.

He said he has held material from going to air or online, even if it meant not being first with the scoop, in order to verify facts.

“Eventually, that credibility will separate ourselves from that pack of garbage out there,” he said. He said “Access” adheres to the guidelines that NBC News follows.

For “Access’” Web element, Mr. Silverstein said he knows a lot of people are watching television while browsing the Internet.

Because of that, the on-air “Access” features the Access Search Engine, which gives quick highlights of stories that have fuller detail online. The show also said it has the first entertainment newsmagazine application for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

Alexa’s rank for access hollywood.com is 3,249.

While television is looking to cross-promote to the Web, what happens when a Web creation wants to make its mark on television?

Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution’s “TMZ,” in its second season, is quickly finding its footing in the broadcast world. But “TMZ” on TV isn’t necessarily looking to grab viewers and put them in front of a television screen, executive producer Harvey Levin said.

“The show has to have the same edgy feel of the Web site,” he said. “But we didn’t want to re-create the Web site on television.”

He said “TMZ” doesn’t do a lot of cross-promotion between the Web and television elements. “Whenever there’s cross-promotion, it feels forced,” he said. “I’d rather not do it than do it that way.”

“I personally hate to go to the Web site for more of the interview,” he added.

TMZ.com is ranked by Alexa as the 711th traffic site on the Internet.